I t was an interesting GAIF Conference and there was a great resolve in Hammamet – with over 1,400 delegates – to go tech. With the spirit of Eid still in the air, it was a good conference indeed despite all the geopolitical tensions, the threat of a global trade war and rising oil prices. The message amidst all that networking and warm camaraderie is that in this high-tech world, Arab insurers must get tech-savvy. They have to modernise their business strategies to remain competitive. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is in full swing and no one can opt out. It is a necessary cultural and intellectual leap and will soon be forced upon insurers by clients themselves.
On the positive side, there is already talk of a first online insurance portal in Bahrain by the end of the year, e-payment companies in Egypt might be allowed to distribute insurance policies, and many are investing in selling products on aggregated websites.
Our cover story is on the lifting of the driving ban on women in one of the largest automotive markets in the region, Saudi Arabia, and how it is expected to add to the boom in the motor insurance segment. Growth expectations are on the speedometer as careful drivers take to the wheels.
Our country profile is on Jordan, where profit margins are being squeezed as the premium pie shrinks with the tough economic conditions, including a doubling of the tax rates. Competition is getting keener and sometimes even uneconomic, they say. There is a need to address the fall pro-actively as the industry is under pressure.
Our takaful market profile is on Afghanistan, a small nascent market heralding a bright future with the government’s push toward infrastructure development. Commercial activities are increasing despite continuing terrorism concerns.
In takaful, we swing to investment tips to get better returns for surplus distribution and gain an edge over the traditional players. Islamic financial assets have passed the $2tn mark though the asset allocation process is complex and the options still limited.
Our special feature on trade credit insurance focuses on minding the small players with the right tools to give them a chance to mitigate their risk in a meaningful and sustainable way.
This July, with the heat upon us, we bring you a host of ideas on what can bring some cool reprieve to the market, where nearly 50% of businesses have fallen victims to financial crimes.
Take the little break to strategise to find your niche in such tough circumstances as time and the hour runs through the roughest day. As a free trader at heart and diligent in execution, I believe in making room for all.
With the host of entries received for the 5th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards, I can see that there are several determined players in the market who stand tall and will make the difference. But be warned that there are yet others with all the pomp and circumstance but paddling breathlessly underwater. This is the real world of business. May the best company always win!
My best wishes to all for a great summer.
Middle East Insurance Review